Faith and Doubt
Eternal God, I come before You now because You occupy such a special place in my life. I am open to Your truth.
Read Psalm 89:1-52
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
It is clear that a church “which goes on singing [only] ‘happy songs’ in the face of raw reality is doing something very different from what the Bible itself does” (Walter Brueggemann). This lesson is taught in this psalm.
Football fans have a saying that football can be “a game of two halves.” A first half in which one side dominates is often followed by a reversal in the second half.
This psalm is also a poem of two contrasting halves, in which the celebration of God’s faithfulness and love, reflected in the order and beauty of creation and in the covenant promises given to David (1-37), is followed by an unexpected and startling reversal as the present, actual experience of the people of God stands in stark contrast to that earlier sense of confidence and joy (38-52). The word “But” in verse 38 is the hinge point of the poem, where we pass from praise of the known character of God to lament at his presently experienced absence and judgment. The loving God of the first half has become hidden from view, with the result that the meaning of life itself is endangered (47).
Honest spirituality is the glory of the psalms, reflecting here a faith that is rooted in the God whose “love stands firm forever” (2) but also an honesty about experiences which seem to contradict such a confession and result in pain and anguish. Alas, too often Christians seem to be afraid of such honesty, fearful that admitting to the experience of doubt and struggle may let the side down. The two halves of this psalm offer us a model of biblical spirituality in which pain and loss do not have to be denied or covered up, but find honest expression in the presence of the God whose very nature is love and faithfulness.
Think about the balance between the two halves of this psalm. Which half do you identify with and why? How has God helped you through some tough times? Write down the times when his faithfulness kept you going.
Faithful God, You are the Lord of the ups and downs of life. You alone are my source of hope, guidance, and strength.